The Things They Got Right
These are the waning days of the Trump Administration. On Wednesday, January 21, Joe Biden will be sworn in as our 46th President. Bucking the norms and institutions of Washington, DC, Trump has been seen as one of the more polarizing figures in American politics. And given the chaos of the last two months, historians face a daunting task of defining his legacy.
The media and political elites have spent the last four years going from outrage to outrage over Trump's unorthodox style. From the moment he stepped in the White House, Democrats in Congress launched attacks on President Trump, and media outlets like CNN and MSNBC spent countless hours in spasms every time Trump opened his mouth. Sure, Trump baited his own hook with the media—but to be fair have you ever seen the 6 PM evening news treat presidential politics like bloodsport before?
But none of this matters now, because a new chapter of American history begins on Wednesday. One can hope that when historians do look back on the last four years, they recognize some of those things that this Administration got right on behalf of the American people. History would do well to remember the men and women who worked hard to ensure that American families thrived. We got tax cuts and jobs. More innovation and technology boomed because the regulatory barriers were lifted. And our religious freedoms were strengthened and protected. All this and more, despite the chaos and the constant incoming salvo from Congress and the media.
They did get a lot right. Let's not forget that.
Highlights of the Trump Administration
Criminal Justice Reform. The Trump administration's prison reform proposals became a bipartisan bill called the First Step Act that passed in 2018.This legislation reforms federal prisons and sentencing laws in order to reduce recidivism, decrease the federal inmate population, and maintain public safety. In particular, mandatory minimum sentences will be reduced for certain drug offenses and prisoners will more easily qualify for early release, and be closer to their home.
Destruction of the ISIS Caliphate. President Trump continued the Obama Administration's anti-ISIS campaign in 2017 and 2018, and it remained successful, culminating in a U.S. raid that killed the ISIS commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October 2019.
Building 5G (and safeguarding the network from China). President Trump’s campaign to build 5G networks on Western rather than Chinese technology was powered by abundant reason: to secure communications in democratic countries from Chinese surveillance, and even Chinese sabotage.
Normalization in the Middle East. Perhaps one of the Trump’ Administration's biggest foreign policy achievement was the Abraham Accords, a series of agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, later joined by Bahrain and Sudan. These agreements normalized relations and has ushered in a ton of investment.
Restoring Due Process on College Campuses. In 2011, the Obama administration issued new guidance to universities to guard against sexual harassment and sexual abuse. Many universities interpreted this guidance as a command to do away with due-process protections in sexual-assault cases. The Trump Education Department has rescinded the 2011 guidance and reaffirmed that sexual-misconduct accusations on campus must be dealt with using the same due-process rules that apply everywhere else in American society.
Investing in HBCUs. The Administration worked with Congress on a bipartisan bill that will permanently provide more than $250 million a year to America’s historically Black colleges and universities. The law also simplifies the efforts students have to make to qualify for financial aid, eliminating a fifth of the questions they are asked to answer. The money is designed to expand science, technology, engineering and math programming in HBCUs, and represents a major investment in the next generation of Black students.
Operation Warp Speed. This collaborative project ensured that the federal government and the private sector's efforts led together to achieve the goal of producing a COVID-19 vaccine more smoothly than ever. Most importantly, the government allocated $14 billion into its fight for a vaccine. To date, two vaccines have received FDA's emergency use authorization—Pfiizer and Moderna—and over 30 million vaccines have been distributed in this country.
As most of you know, my husband has had the privilege and honor to serve for the last 3 1/2 years in the Trump Administration. During these years, our family has enjoyed getting to know so many of the good people working here in the Nation's capital to make America stronger, safer and a better place for my family and yours.